Skincare routine for managing eczema

Filed Under (cleanser, mask, moisturiser, scrub, serum, skincare, toner, treatment) by rinnah on 23-09-2013

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Ah eczema. It’s the bane of my life and has been around for 17 odd years now – more than half my lifespan! It only became a huge issue for me over the past three or so years when various stresses in my life combined to push me over the edge and eczema started to affect my face. Naturally, I panicked and started running all over like a headless chicken, throwing money at any product that even remotely claimed to be for sensitive and eczema affected skin.

So I tried stuff from Dior, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Lancome, Kiehl’s, Dermalogica, drugstore brands and even to the extent of buying many expensive natural/organic products from overseas to try and manage my skin. Sometimes it worked for a while and then it would stop working. Other times it just greatly aggravated my skin to the point where I started thinking I would never look ‘human’ again.

Dry skin
Waiting out a flare-up in December 2012

Anyway, the point of this blogpost is not to moan about how horrible eczema can be and how it affects me but to note down the following skincare routine – I’ve been following various permutations of this routine for the past 5 months and I think I’ve found the right combo that helps me in managing my eczema.

Back to Basics
Eczema flare-ups can last anywhere between a week to a month for me, depending on the severity of the flare-up and whether or not I’m on doctor’s prescribed medication. Symptoms of an ongoing flare-up include itching, swelling, redness, inflammation, weeping, crusting and even bleeding when the skin splits.

Whenever I have a flare-up, I stop ALL skincare to keep from aggravating my skin. I only wash my face with water in the mornings. Occasionally at night, I will use Pai Skincare Camellia & Rose gentle hydrating cleanser. I can get away with this very basic cleansing routine because I don’t use any makeup at all during a flare-up.

pai skincare camellia & rose cleanser
Image credit to Pai Skincare

After cleansing, I will apply calendulis cream from The Eczema Company on the patches of eczema. Calendulis cream is made from the calendula flower and is almost as effective as a cortisone / steroid cream and better in the long run as it is natural. This is so gentle I can even use it around and all over my eyelids, because the eczema tends to breakout there.

Healing and Treating
Once my skin has passed the swelling/weeping stage and starts drying out, it will start to peel. I will vaguely resemble either a bad sunburn victim or a reptilian creature, depending on how you want to look at it. There will still be itching, redness, inflammation, crusting, flaking/peeling and also bleeding when the new skin tears or splits.

No change to the cleansing and moisturizing routine from the basics above. I add on one extra step to aid with the healing process by using Leaders Insolution aloe vera sheet mask nightly, after cleansing with the Pai cleanser and before the Eczema Company calendulis cream. Once a week I will switch from using the Pai cleanser to Mario Badescu enzyme cleansing gel for some gentle exfoliation to aid in removing the flakes and dead skin cells.

After all of the skin flakes have dropped/peeled off, my skin will still have red/discoloured patches where the eczema outbreaks were. Sometimes the dryness and flaking will continue on these patches for a period of time even after the rest of my face is back to normal.

Sulwhasoo first care activating serum
Image credit to Sulwhasoo

As my skin gradually regains normality, oil production returns. Hello shiny nose! When this occurs, I will cleanse my skin with Sulwhasoo gentle cleansing foam in the night and use the Pai cleanser in the mornings if needed. I continue to use the Mario Badescu gel once a week for exfoliation and mild brightening effects. After cleansing I will use Sulwhasoo first care activating serum all over my face, followed by the Eczema Company calendulis cream on dry patches. At night I continue to use either the Leaders Insolution AC-dressing sheet mask or the Hyaluronic sheet mask after cleansing and before the Sulwhasoo first care serum. Which mask I use depends on whether I want to address redness (AC-dressing) or hydration (Hyaluronic) issues, but most of the time I will use the AC-dressing one as I find it is more effective for me.

Leaders Insolution AC-Dressing Skin Clinic Mask

Adding the step of a nightly sheet mask was when I really started to see major improvement in my skin in terms of healing time and also in spacing out the downtime between flare-ups. I must note though that my skin only seems to work with Leaders Insolution sheet masks as I attempted to use My Beauty Diary once and had a mild flare-up on the following day.

Adding the Extras
Once I’ve gotten my skin to the stage where I’m pleased with it, I usually start to add on what I term as ‘extras’ to my skincare routine. So far I’ve found that my skin seems to adore the Sulwhasoo TimeTreasure perfecting water and the TimeTreasure perfecting emulsion in addition to the first care serum at night. In the day time I use Sulwhasoo Renodigm Ex dual care cream for mild UV protection.

Sulwhasoo renodigm ex dual care cream
Image credit to Sulwhasoo

So that’s it – what I’m currently using to manage my skin. While each individual has unique peculiarities and what works for me might not work for someone else, I hope that this post may be of use at the very least to give hope to anyone suffering from eczema.

September 2013
Present-day in September 2013

The ArglyDuckling

Filed Under (bodycare, cosmetics, lip balm, lotions, mascara, mask, moisturiser, nail polish, skincare) by rinnah on 04-07-2012

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I grew up with proper, old-fashioned storybooks in my childhood days. The standards – Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, The Three Bears, Goldilocks – you name it, I’ve probably read it. (My age is showing, isn’t it?) :P

And who could forget The Ugly Duckling? The story that promised you that one day, you would turn into a beautiful swan, loved and revered by all.

Well, some enterprising folks here in Singapore have taken the traditional fable and given it a right modern twist. Say hello to the ArglyDuckling online boutique. Where everyone (not just us girls) can look gorgeous if we want to, with just a little bit of effort and patience!

Right now, ArglyDuckling carries some niche, exclusive and hard-to-find brands in Singapore, like Blinc, Ciracle and Nature Girl to name a few. I was recently invited to a preview of some of the products and brands that they offer and I certainly was intrigued by more than a few!

argly duckling

I have plenty of photos for your viewing pleasure (together with my mini commentary/first thoughts about the brand or product) so mosey along after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel

Filed Under (cleanser, skincare) by rinnah on 21-11-2011

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When I was first growing out of my teenage years about a decade or so back, Simple was the very second skincare brand that I used (the distinction of being the first goes to Shiseido). Even back then I already knew that I had sensitive skin because of the way my skin used to turn red and irritated if it came into contact with stuff that didn’t suit me. My aunt recommended Clinique, but it was way too pricey for the student I was at the time so I looked for a drugstore alternative. I chose Simple simply because (yes, I know, bad pun there) it claimed to have less harmful ingredients and was manufactured in UK. (The ones you see in the store today are now manufactured in Thailand, I believe.) I used up nearly the whole range available back then – from their cleanser, toner, mask, scrub, etc. Then I started to stray simply because I grew up, started working and had money to be unfaithful. Hahaha.

This past year or so I’ve been battling bad bouts of eczema on my face (which was not a problem I’d had before) and even switching up my skincare regime didn’t seem to help. On one of those particularly bad days, I was trawling the aisles of my local Guardian when I saw a cute travel sized bottle of my former love – Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel. I remembered how good Simple used to be on my skin (granted that my skin condition then and now is in rather different circumstances) and I thought why not give it a go again?

Simple Facial Wash Gel

I approached my night time cleansing ritual with trepidation that first night. Who knew what had changed in the years since and would Simple work its charms on me again?

Now, if the story had gone badly, I would still blog about it. But luckily, all went well and I’m now wondering why did I ever stray from Simple in the first place. Either my skin has changed somewhat or they’ve reformulated this facial wash gel, but it seems to be even gentler on skin than before. I like how fresh and clean my skin feels after using this – no more oily feeling but yet I feel comfortable and not dried out. If you’re looking for foam, you’ll need a different type of cleanser because this baby does its work quietly and efficiently without fanfare. Also, there is no scent in this cleanser – after all, we’re keeping things simple here. :P

I’m now quite partial to reaching out for it on days that my face is less oily and when I don’t need to think if I need to calm or scrub. I would say that it’s one of those products in your arsenal that’s reliably there when you need it but doesn’t necessarily wow. So yup, Simple and I are back together again, but it isn’t *that* kind of love this time around. Hello old friend, it’s good to have you back.

Yes factors : Gentle on skin, not drying, no scent, decently priced drugstore brand
No factors : Nothing I can think of

Read other blogger reviews here :

Packaging : 50ml, 150ml

Ingredients : Aqua, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Sodium Chloride, Panthenol, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Sodium Hydroxide

My Women Stuff Readers Choice Awards 2011

Filed Under (branding, contest, events) by rinnah on 01-11-2011

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In the words of Barney Stinson, it was LEGEN… wait for it… DARY!!!

I truly didn’t imagine that a random conversation on Twitter with Paris B would become the epic event (in Beetrice’s words) that was My Women Stuff Readers Choice Awards.

mwsawards stickers

There are more pictures of the event, so keep on reading after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Clinique Derma White City Block Anti-Pollution SPF40

Filed Under (skincare, suncare) by rinnah on 25-08-2011

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I need to confess that I’m a very bad girl when it comes to sun protection for my skin. I hardly ever use sunblock since my previous working lifestyle in Malaysia meant that I was somewhat vampirish/zombieish – the times that I ventured outdoors was usually early in the morning before the sun rose and late at night after the sun set. So, yes I was lazy about protecting my skin in that aspect although I was diligent about my moisturizers.

But ever since I’ve moved to Singapore, I find myself being rather concerned about sun protection since I have to do a fair bit of walking out in the sun – in the morning, at midday and again in the early evening. To be honest, I’m most concerned about changing skintone color. (It’s the Asian genes in me that incite the need to be as fair as possible. Heh.)

So I’ve been looking for a tinted sunblock or moisturizer for some time now ever since I finished off my previous one (Avène Very High Protection Cream SPF50) and Clinique’s Derma White City Block Anti-Pollution SPF40 landed in my hands at just the right time.

Clinique Derma White City Block
Image credit

I like the tube packaging and the clean white and silver design. Controlling the amount of sunblock you want to use is easy and I’ve never had a mess on my hands. So no gripes about the packaging.

The Derma White City Block is a tinted sunblock and it comes in only one shade. I’m not sure how it will fare on darker skinned girls as I tend towards the lighter end of the spectrum for Asians. The tint seems to suit my skintone fairly well because you can’t tell at all that I have a tinted product on but it does little to cover up redness and blemishes. It did feel a bit ‘sticky’ on my skin upon immediate application, but that feeling fades after a while (around 30 mins or so). The thing that I noticed and loved the most is that there is no typical sunblock smell about the Derma White City Block. It looks and behaves (to me) almost like a liquid foundation but with sheer minimal coverage and higher SPF protection.

I first tested wearing this sunblock over my moisturizer and nothing else. I did feel a bit oilier than usual around my T-zone after 4 hours but it was nothing that a quick blotting couldn’t cure. The following day, I used pressed powder over the sunblock and the oilies were well in control at the same 4 hour mark. In fact, with the pressed powder working in combination with the sunblock, my skin tone looked evened out especially in the areas where I’m prone to redness and the combination provided me with sufficient coverage for a pretty much flawless surface. (Please bear in mind that I have dry/combination skin, rarely have pimple breakouts and don’t have open pores to conceal.)

As for the Derma White City Block’s protection qualities, I was out and about in the harsh midday sun during my lunch hour running errands and I can safely say that it was doing its job because my unprotected arms felt like they were burning but less so on my face.

Would I repurchase this? Very likely yes, unless another product comes along to distract me. :P

Yes factors : Nice level of sun protection, color tint helps to cover uneven skin tone, no chemical sunblock smell
No factors : It only comes in one shade, feels a bit sticky on application, makes me a bit oily, may be a bit pricey for some

Packaging : 30ml

Recommended retail price : MYR 135.00

Note : This product was provided to me by PR for consideration. This does not affect my review in anyway and do refer to my disclosure policy for further details.

Read other blogger reviews here :
Paris B

A miniature haul from Hong Kong!

Filed Under (bodycare, cosmetics, fragrances, lip gloss, lotions, moisturiser, retail shopping, skincare, suncare) by rinnah on 25-07-2011

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Ah Hong Kong! How I miss shopping there already… and I’ve only been back for a week. :P

Being a total newbie (it was my maiden trip to HK), I was totally unprepared for the bright lights and myriad stores. But I was lost the moment Kahani introduced me to Bonjour.

When she showed me the section on sample/travel sized products, I was completely sold on the concept and there was no turning back. The majority of the stuff you see in the picture below is from Bonjour, with a purchase each from Sasa, Harvey Nichols Beauty Hall and duty-free at Changi Terminal.

Hong Kong miniature haul

In no particular order, I came back with :
1. Revlon Colorburst Lipgloss in Rose Perle
2. Steam Cream
3. Lanvin Marry Me perfume miniature
4. Talika Lipocils Expert eyelash serum
5. Lancome Hydra Zen Neocalm detoxifying moisturising multi-relief anti-stress gel essence
6. Lancome Hydra Zen extreme soothing moisturising cream-gel
7. Lancome Genifique Youth Activator serum
8. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex serum
9. Estee Lauder Hydrationist Moisture Barrier Fortifier ultra-hydration serum
10. Dior Capture Totale One Essential skin boosting super serum
11. Diorsnow White Reveal essence
12. Shu Uemura UV Armor high protection face cream SPF 50
13. Shu Uemura Deepsea Hydrability moisturizing gel cream
14. Clarins Beauty Flash Balm
15. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial micro serum
16. Laniege Water Sleeping Pack_Ex
17. Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale exceptional complete care serum
18. Clinique Take The Day Off makeup remover

Whew! That’s a lot of miniature stuff, methinks! :P

And did you notice anything about the list above? It’s mostly skincare with a heavy slant towards hydrating stuff and anti-aging stuff.

I’ve been lemming quite a number of these serums for some time now, so yes, I am one very happy camper. Let’s hope that my sensitive/problematic skin takes kindly to me experimenting in the next few months!

How I wish I had access to these miniature pretties in Singapore or Malaysia all the time…

Read other blogger notes on shopping in Hong Kong here :
Paris B

Clinique Superbalanced Makeup Foundation

Filed Under (cosmetics, foundation) by rinnah on 13-02-2011

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clinique superbalanced foundation

According to Clinique’s website, the Superbalanced Makeup Foundation is an adjustable oil-free coverage formula that adds moisture and subtracts oil where needed. It also contains soothing camomile extract to protect skin from environmental damage and vitamin E to help fight free radicals in a water-resistant formula that is streak-proof and perspiration-proof.

How did it fare with me? I had picked up a 7 day sample of Superbalanced foundation from the Clinique counter at Jusco Bandar Utama during one of their sample promotion periods and the consultant color matched me to shade SB#02. Read the rest of this entry »

The best deal for you

Filed Under (online shopping, retail shopping, tips and tricks) by rinnah on 20-02-2010

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I like to think of myself as a savvy consumer. Make no mistake, I don’t mean being a stingy consumer, just a smart consumer who knows value when she sees it. So, how can you ensure that you end up with the best deal that is just right for you, the savvy consumer? Let’s have a little demonstration of what I mean.

Image credit

Sometime last month (in January), I knew I was running out of my Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief. And I definitely knew that I needed to repurchase this staple in my beauty routine. Instead of waiting till the very last moment to repurchase, I decided I needed a plan of action. I would use the time I had between when I decided to repurchase and when I would run out of my moisturizer to ensure that I got the best possible deal.

I already knew that the regular sized jar (50ml) retailed for MYR 160 at all Clinique counters. Was there any way that I could get a better deal? I was willing to pay the full retail price of MYR 160, but yet I wanted assurance that I would get the best possible value for my MYR 160. Let’s see what I did.

Firstly, I checked out the price of online retailers. From friends’ recommendations and good experiences, Strawberrynet seemed the ideal place to start with. Unfortunately, they were having no special promotions and it would have cost me MYR 166 (with free shipping) when purchasing from them. Strawberrynet was a no-go.

At the recommendation of another friend, I checked out BestBuy World. Although the prices there are much cheaper, the product is not the full sized product, but rather travel/sample sizes as a discounted rate. The different type of packaging did not bother me, but unfortunately, they had no ready stocks of Moisture Surge then.

So, at that point of time it seemed as though I would need to pay the full retail price for my moisturizer. No problem, since I was already prepared to pay MYR 160 for the product. The next question was : Where to buy it? I decided to make my purchase at Parkson, since they have a retail program with Bonuslink which allows you to collect reward points for all purchases. In this way, I could be assured of accumulating reward points for future redemption against shopping vouchers. At least there would be some return on my money spent.

Then, as luck would have it, I received a flyer from Bonuslink informing me that there would be a members’ day at Parkson, which would allow me to collect 5 times reward points on any purchase. Even more value for money, right? So I deferred my purchase for a few more days while waiting for the members’ day to roll around.

During the time between the Bonuslink flyer and the members’ day, I received an email from Clinique, informing me of their latest promotion to redeem a sample of their new anti-aging moisturizer. I decided that I would redeem my free sample at the same time when I made my purchase.

When I visited the Clinique counter, I was able to accomplish a number of things at the same time – restock my moisturizer, redeem my free sample and I also asked the consultant for another sample of Clinique’s best-selling All About Eyes eye gel. Even though I did not purchase enough to meet the Gift-With-Purchase limit, I’m satisfied with getting samples on top of my purchased item.

Better yet, since I made my purchase on the members’ day, not only did I get the 5 times reward points, I also got MYR 20 worth of Parkson vouchers for spending above MYR 150 in a single day. Can you say score?

Total haul on that day :
Moisture Surge – MYR 160
Youth Surge sample redemption – free
All About Eyes sample – free
Parkson vouchers worth MYR 20 – free

Wouldn’t you say that’s a good deal? And all that for just waiting 1 week extra.

You might think that I unnecessarily spent a lot of time comparing prices and still ended up paying the full retail price for my moisturizer, but when I look at all that I managed to get for just one trip, to me that’s worth much more than randomly going out shopping.

So, plan your purchases ahead of time and save money.
Getting additional satisfaction in knowing you got a good deal? Priceless.

Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief

Filed Under (moisturiser, skincare) by rinnah on 23-01-2010

Tagged Under :

Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief

Tagline : Enjoy rapid refreshment and a full 12 hours of soothing moisture with an addictive by-a-waterfall feel. Advanced hydration boosters and a new botanical blend hold skin’s moisture in balance through stressful shifts in humidity, indoors and out.

Description : Rapid, long-lasting hydration in a refreshing oil-free gel. Fast-absorbing formula with active aloe delivers a burst of moisture. Smooths, softens, plumps up fine dry lines. Locks in moisture all day with advanced hydration technology. Unique moisture balancing system helps skin better resist dehydration despite drastic shifts in humidity. Use whenever, wherever needed, under or over makeup. Or as a 5-minute moisture mask. For all skin types.

Packaging : 1.7oz/50ml or 2.5oz/75ml

Recommended retail price : USD 34 (online) / MYR 160 (local) or USD 46.50 (online)

My review :

It’s funny, but I started out my beauty blogging stint (if sporadic posts on beauty products can be thus called) being nicknamed the Clinique lover by Beetrice because nearly every other review post was about Clinique. Truth be told though, while I like Clinique’s stuff, I don’t love it nor rave about it that much. Not until I met Clinique’s Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief formula (referred after this as Moisture Surge).

Do I like it? No, I love it and can’t live without it! :D

Coming from me, that’s like the highest praise I can give any product due to the nature of my skin. Not only do I have hyper-sensitive skin, I have eczema to go on top of the hyper-sensitivity, which means most products will cause some form of erratic reaction, ranging from redness to spots/zits to even a full-blown eczema rash breakout.

I was gifted a full sized jar of Moisture Surge (50ml) sometime in June last year while I was in the middle of yet another eczema breakout and was initially quite wary about trying out a new skincare product on my face. What if it made the eczema worse?

I am happy to say that all I feared did not occur. In fact, Moisture Surge managed to restore my poor red, flaky skin to normality over the period of 6 weeks. Folks who have seen me at the height of the outbreak can testify to how much improvement has taken place since then till now, and I even get comments asking me what did I do to my skin that its now perfectly smooth. (As a female, you know how good it feels to be praised as having “smooth, supple skin”? Oh yes. And that coming from a guy too!)

I love how the pretty rose-pink lightweight gel formula just disappears into my skin without that sticky and oily feeling that makes me want to wash my face again – which is normally the case for me with other moisturizers (even Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, which many people swear by). In fact, the first few times I when I had Moisture Surge on, I kept on running my fingers down the side of my cheek (which is not affected by eczema, thankfully) thinking in my head, “Oooh! So smooth!”

For me, this product would be quite budget-friendly as it has taken me more than six months to hit rock-bottom and this is with twice-daily usage. And for what it’s worth, this is the first time ever I have actually finished off an entire jar of any skincare product. I am going to repurchase this soon as I don’t want to be caught without this staple in my beauty closet!

Yes factors : Sensitive skin friendly, good hydration, non-oily light formula
No factors : Nothing I didn’t like about it

Read other blogger reviews here :
Beetrice (previous version)
Nikki (previous version)
Paris B
Pretty Beautiful (previous version) and (current version)
Tine (previous version)

Clinique Lash Power™ Curling Mascara

Filed Under (cosmetics, mascara) by rinnah on 31-08-2009

Tagged Under :

Clinique Lash Power curling mascara

Tagline : Lash curler no longer required

Description : New Lash Power™ Curling Mascara holds a curl for up to 24 long hours. Celebrate dramatic curl achieved through a formula that stretches lashes to their limits and a wand that scoops up, lifts up every last lash. Won’t smudge, flake or smear. Lasts through rain, sweat, humidity, tears, yet removes easily with warm water. Ophthalmologist tested. Appropriate for contact lens wearers. Allergy tested. 100% fragrance free. Formulated for Asian eyes.

Colors : Black Onyx, Dark Chocolate

Packaging : 6ml

Recommended retail price : MYR 75

My review :

This review originally appeared on my old blog on 15 May 2008.

I got my hands on a free travel-sized sample of the Lash Power™ Curling Mascara in Black Onyx and immediately put it to the test.

The packaging for the travel-sized sample is a plain gray plastic tube, which does not resemble the real thing, which is a matte silver slim tube.

The brush head is small and slightly curved, which I suppose is meant to help you “catch” every last lash for the curling effect. I like that the brush is teeny enough to reach the fine lashes at the corners of my eyes, unlike previous mascaras which I’d used that had big chunky brushes. But of course, brush size is a matter of personal preference and also depends on what you want your mascara to do. If you’re going for volume, then a bigger brush would work wonders. But if you prefer length like I do, then a smaller brush allows for better control. (Note: Since I received a travel-sized sample, I’m not sure if the original packaging brush size is the same – the Clinique counter I visited did not have an opened sample.)

The first few swipes of the brush resulted in lengthening of my lashes, but defining the curve took a little bit more work since I don’t use a lash curler to assist me. A colleague who analyzed the end effect for me said that the curl was not as visible as she expected it to be, but I think it’s because the major effect of this mascara on me is that of length rather than volume and curl. There is some noticable difference when I look closely in that my lashes are curling upwards but only towards the end. However, it did do a nice job of “opening up” my eyes without seeming overly mascara-d, which is a look I try to avoid at all costs, and looks very natural. I did find the first application to be a little clumpy right out of the tube and it required multiple swipes of the brush to even out the distribution on each lash. (Not sure if the reason is because it’s a sample?)

This mascara dried nicely and instantly, so I did not end up smudging my lower lashes when I blinked. The staying power is commendable as even after 12 hours, my lashes still looked as they did when I first applied the mascara. Nice!

And for those who like me have found removing mascara (especially the waterproof type) a huge hassle even with make-up remover, I think I’ve found my perfect product. Like the claims say, it removes easily and simply with warm water. I used warm water from my shower, splash splash and voila, the mascara began to remove itself just like that. Of course you will have to rinse a few times to make sure that the last vestiges of mascara are fully removed, but this is the easiest time I’ve ever had in removing mascara (and oh yes, it removes cleanly – no stray lumps clinging onto my lashes at the end). Needless to say, I love this aspect of the product.

Yes factors : Nice length achieved, small brush head for reaching corners, excellent no-smudge staying power, easy to clean
No factors : Minimal curl achieved contrary to product claims, seems a bit clumpy when first out of the tube, careful application with a steady hand required

Read other blogger reviews here :

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